Western Mass. Top 10: Division 3 Tourney qualifiers are set

Fran Sypek
Fran Sypek
Fran has covered hockey at all levels, NHL, AHL, junior, college and high school for the Springfield Republican from 1978-2013. His column "Hockey Talk'' appeared in the Sunday Republican. The hockey beat took him from Maine to Arizona in the United States and from Newfoundland to Alberta in Canada. Fran was the recipient of the Matthew Ryan Award for Outstanding Coverage of High School Hockey and the Janet McCormick Award from the Springfield Olympics. He then shifted from pros to college when the University of Massachusetts restored its program and joined Hockey East. Later, he continued covering the Boston Bruins and the Springfield Falcons. Fran's covered future NHL players from Western Massachusetts in Paul Fenton, Bob Kudelski, Rick Bennett and Bill Guerin. He is a member of the Bessone Award committee, which helps select the top high school hockey player in Western Mass. Fran was a goalie for Holyoke Community College in 1973-74 and graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1977. Fran is currently a free lance writer living in Bondsville, Mass and grew up in Chicopee, Mass, has visited all 50 states, and is an avid photographer.

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Western Mass. Top 10 Poll

RankTeamPrevious RankingWLT
1Agawam11432
2Westfield21133
3Longmeadow3854
4Minnechaug41070
5Chicopee 51341
6Chicopee Comp.61153
7East Longmeadow77110
8Amherst81134
9Belchertown91171
10Mount EverettNR953

The Division 3 field became set Saturday following No. 4 Minnechaug’s win over South Hadley. The Falcons will be joined by No. 1 Agawam (14-3-2), No. 3 Longmeadow (8-4-4), and No. 2 Westfield (11-3-2) to compose the four-team field. Minnechaug’s win eliminated No. 7 East Longmeadow.

Agawam and Westfield are locks to cop the top two seeds and will be favored to meet again in the sectional final as they did a year ago. Longmeadow and Minnechaug will be the next two seeds and both teams hope to spring an upset to avoid a repeat of last season’s final.

Agawam is in its second season in Division 3 after winning the State 3A championship in 2013.

In Division 3A, No. 8 Amherst (10-3-3), No. 9 Belchertown (10-7-1), No. 5 Chicopee (13-4), No. 6 Chicopee Comp (11-4-3), and surprising No. 10 Mount Everett (9-5-3) are in. Still on the bubble are Berkshire independents Taconic (7-9-1) and Wahconah (9-8-1).

After tying West Springfield on Saturday, the Warriors are 9-8-1 and still need one more point to earn a tournament berth. Two more opportunities remain for the reigning Western Mass. champs against Chicopee and West Springfield.  Tuesday’s game will be the first time the Pacers and Warriors meet since Wahconah staged a wild comeback to stun Chicopee in the Sectional Final last season.

Mount Everett will meet Taconic on Wednesday. At 7-9-1, Taconic needs to win its final two games to make the playoffs. If the Braves beat the Eagles, they’ll still need to a win over Belchertown Friday.

The best feel good story in Western Mass. is Mount Everett.  The Eagles only won one game a season ago and wrapped a postseason berth last week with a win over Wahconah.

Highlights

– Amherst served notice that the Division 3A tournament be ready after it rallied for a 4-4 tie with Chicopee. The Hurricanes led 4-3, but Jeff Zebrowski scored the equalizer with 44 seconds remaining.

– East Longmeadow goalie Matt Gasparini did his best to keep his team in contention. He made 49 saves as East Longmeadow beat rival Longmeadow, 5-3. Ben Wosky and Nick Corbin each had one goal and an assist. John McDonald, Liam Fitzgerald and Matt Walthouse scored the goals for Longmeadow.

– Minnechaug punched its ticket to the postseason with an 11-2 triumph over South Hadley. Luke Cranston scored his first two varsity goals Nick Rivet (just back following an injury) and Cameron Mariani each scored two goals while Noah Hemenway added one goal and three assists.

– Trevor Hathaway recorded a hat trick and added an assist as Mount Everett hockey beat Wahconah 7-3 to qualify for the tournament. Jacob Malicky had a pair of goals and two assists for Mount Everett, while Jake Corcoran had a goal and three assists. Jonah Swotes made 30 saves. Jeff Hancock scored two goals for Wahconah.

 

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